Harnessing a love of languages

HAVING spent his childhood immersed in French culture – ‘my grandparents welcomed French guests at their B&B farm and I had many family holidays in France’ – Andrew (Andy) Picot’s fascination with languages stems from an early age.

Andrew Picot
Andrew Picot

And it is a passion which has grown, taking the former St Martin’s School and De La Salle College pupil to Granada, Costa Rica and China, as well as to France. He has taught English around the world.

Gaining teaching qualifications and honing his own language skills through a mix of travel and study since 2006, Mr Picot returned to the Island in 2015 and, three years later, founded his own language school, Complete Languages Tuition & Services – Jersey.

‘Having spent many years working in the mainstream education sector, of which six of those were spent teaching French and Spanish at Victoria College while I also worked briefly at Les Quennevais and Victoria College Prep, I could see that there was a niche for a private enterprise, encouraging as many Channel Islanders as possible to learn a language either face-to-face or remotely online at a time and pace that suited them,’ he explained. ‘Unfortunately, Covid has halted steep development.

‘Sadly, the delivery of languages in schools is not at the level it could or should be. While some schools offer three or four languages at GCSE, others offer two and, elsewhere, there is often no compulsion to study a language at all; this doesn’t help pupils to develop the skills needed to become a well-rounded adult. Opting for a foreign language at GCSE should happen in Year 9, not in Year 8.’

It is partly this ‘disillusionment’ with the provision of language education which has prompted Mr Picot both to expand his business and consider standing as an independent Deputy either next year or in 2025.

‘I have been approached by several individuals, asking me if I would stand for the States, following in the footsteps of many family members who have sat in the Chamber,’ he said.

‘While I would have liked to stand as a Senator, with an Islandwide mandate, I am now considering which district to stand in – St Martin/Grouville, where I was born, Trinity/St John/St Lawrence, where I live now, or St Helier.

‘It depends whether I follow my head, my gut or my heart.

‘At the language school, meanwhile, I currently offer French and Spanish to nearly all ages, as well as intermediate-level Jersey French, but I also wish to learn and teach elementary-level Italian, Portuguese and possibly Polish,’ he explained.

‘By employing additional staff, I will strengthen my managerial skills and leadership competencies which would put me in stronger contention for a senior leadership role at a local bilingual French-English school, should such an initiative come to fruition soon enough.

‘This concept was first conceived in 2015 under the then Education Minister. As this didn’t seem to have progressed, I contacted the new Education Minister Scott Wickenden and met Rachel Baxter, Jersey’s senior adviser to schools, last week to develop the idea.

‘While some progress has been made, with 1.5 specialist French teachers working in rotation across many primary schools, more could be done.’

With a strong interest in education, it is little surprise that, if Mr Picot does stand for election, his manifesto will include the provision of language tuition.

‘Whether I stand or not will depend on how things develop over the coming months.

‘The ministries I would be keen to get involved with are Education and Children’s, External Relations or International Development and Home Affairs. I am also skilled at Scrutiny,’ he added.

‘Having travelled abroad and gained life experience working in different countries and immersing myself in those cultures, I feel that I would be well placed to represent the Island overseas.’

Mr Picot’s interest in Home Affairs, meanwhile, stems from a passion in the local justice system, an interest which he combines with his love of languages in his new role as an interpreter for the Royal Court (Judicial Greffe) and Magistrate’s Court and Greffe. His family have been police officers too.

While busy with his tuition and translating/proofreading services – which he also offers on a freelance basis – Mr Picot is also hoping to make time this summer to train as a Blue Badge tourist guide for foreign groups.

lMore details are available from the Complete Languages Tuition & Services – Jersey page on Facebook or by calling Mr Picot on 07797 833368 or emailing him at Picot.AJB@gmail.com.

For his extended CV, including other industries/sectors he has worked in, visit linkedin.com/in/AJPicot.

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